In Victory for Voting Rights, Appeals Court Upholds Decision in Georgia Photo ID Case

Affiliate: ACLU of Georgia
October 27, 2005 12:00 am

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ID Restrictions Would Have Kept Voters from the Polls, Says ACLU

ATLANTA – Less than two weeks before Election Day, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a court decision blocking a controversial state law from taking effect that would have dramatically restricted the types of photo identification that may be used when voting.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the legal challenge with a coalition of voting rights advocates, applauded the decision.

“”We are extremely pleased with today’s court decision,”” said Neil Bradley, Associate Director of the Atlanta-based ACLU Voting Rights Project, and one of the attorneys in the case. “”Two federal courts have now recognized the potential of this law to place an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote for thousands of Georgia voters, especially minorities, the elderly and the poor.””

Last week, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect before the upcoming elections on November 8. The court held that the plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of succeeding on the merits of their claims that the photo ID requirement is an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote and constitutes a poll tax. The injunction will remain in place while the legal challenge continues.

Georgia’s photo ID law (H.B. 244) reduces the various forms of identification that voters can use from 17 to six, and makes government issued photo identification absolutely required in order to vote. The ACLU and a consortium of voting rights advocates and private attorneys filed the lawsuit against state and local election officials on September 19 after the U.S. Department of Justice granted preclearance to the measure. Because of Georgia’s history of voting discrimination, the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires that any changes to election laws or voting procedures receive clearance from federal officials before going into effect.

Among other complaints, the advocates charge in the lawsuit that the law violates the Voting Rights Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Georgia Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit asks that the court declare the law “”unconstitutional, null and void.””

For more information on the lawsuit, go to:

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